The West Marches is a style of D&D game where there isn’t a set group who goes on adventures, instead players will organise with the DM and set out from a central town to find adventure in the surrounding area.
According to Ars Ludi:
There was no regular plot: The players decided where to go and what to do. It was a sandbox game in the sense that’s now used to describe video games like Grand Theft Auto, minus the missions. There was no mysterious old man sending them on quests. No overarching plot, just an overarching environment.
As someone who runs a few Dungeons and Dragons games (as well as the Star Wars RPG) I thought this a great opportunity to play, especially if I was able to jump into games around MY schedule. I recommend checking out the subreddit if you’re interested.
What follows is my character’s story after returning to ‘Haven’ the town at the centre of the West Marches. He’s a Half-Elf Bard named Ostarin ‘Rin’ Saicin who tells stories and speaks in a rather outback style of Australian.
Rin’s First West Marches Adventure
Alright, Alright Listen up ya Drongos.
When you’re face to face with a Croc that’s looking you in the eye on account of him standing on two legs like a man, and none of your weapons seem to pierce his scales you’re gonna wish you listened to your mate Rin when he told this very story I’m about to tell ya.
Which one of you thinks they know what a ‘Wet Lands’ looks like?
Cause I’ve bloody been there mate and you better believe I’ve come back with a story or five.
I’m talking about the REAL wetlands, to the south east-ish.
Now you all know me, your old mate ‘Rin’.
And you know my word is as good and true as the sweet songs Dupont usually fills these halls with.
Roll a Wisdom Saving Throw – On a success you scoff at Rin and his tall tales… but of course you keep listening because it’s your good mate Rin.
So listen to me when I say there’s a Gnome you should all be looking up to.
Burlo Thriftkin heard a furphy of some Crocs out there causing trouble, stealing children from their beds, turning the whiskey into piss and worshiping Corellon knows what out there in the Wetlands.
I told him, some of you lot like a bit of the old ‘Piss Whiskey’ but Burlo thought you deserved better, so he put together a crack team to stop these horrors.
Charlotte the underage prodigy, the legendary Sir Wilheim Geist, Xanthar Seeker ‘The Hammer’, and your old mate Rin set off early in the morn so ‘s you wouldn’t have to keep sleep with a Light Cantrip on each night for too much longer.
After some encouragingly ominous words from Jokut and a point in the right direction from one of the city’s finest, we head out east.
Those of you who’ve been out that way or spoken with those who have, may have seen or heard tales of a Giant Glowing Elk down in The Orchard to the south east.
As Rin speaks and describes the Elk, you see a small version floating of it floating and glowing softly above the storyteller
I can attest that he’s real… and will be important later, pay attention.
Early the second day, we come across a field of flowers. Now this field is no ordinary field, and these flowers you wouldn’t want to pick for that cute serving boy you fancy.
These flowers release a sleeping pollen and it’s super effective. Were we you normal everyday adventurers the story would stop there, but Burlo knows how to pick em, and we watched as living vines grew up into shambling men. Thanks to Charlotte’s quick thinking and quicker magic, they were distracted long enough for us to skirt south east around the Flower field.
42 Miles east South Easterly as the crow flies, we made camp above a curious cave.
“Normally, Shit Happens when I do this”
Rin clicks his fingers and the illusory Elk disappears
There is silence for a moment
But no god, no spell and no song could flare up inside that cave of curiosity. There was a field that dampens or possibly devourers magicks.
Thanks to Xanthar, we discovered a name of power scrawled one thousand and one times across the walls, I’ll not speak the name here, in this place, but know that the Cart parked out front of it is mine, though you’re welcome to borrow it if you fill her up before you give it back.
Of course again overnight we hear the call of the Elk to the South-west of us.
The next morning we see the river to our South east. We’ve come to the wetlands, mangroves, and even a dead dwarf.
Here’s where the omens begin to line up. When Jokut tells you he sees: Scales, Teeth, Blood and Gold, you’re probably in over your head. Us however, have a Geist on our side and Sir Whilheim is the best of them.
In the time it takes a hare to blink, the battle trained Sir Whilheim Geist assess the situation and knows there’s Were-Crocs in these swamps, though sinister dark rites have infected the area giving them great strength. He lets fly a javelin into their desecrated altar built of bones and strikes true.
All bastards are bastards but these werecroc bastards is BASTARDS.
Xanthar and Whilheim take the lead and hold overwhelming strength of Man and Crocs at bay, though no steel can pierce or slash their hardened scales.
Cool headed and in control at all times, Burlo unleashes a sacred flame and bringing his god’s wrath upon these fearsome creatures. Charlotte, knowing that the air is full of foul magicks, lays waste to their altar of sin and death, making the world a safer place.
Through cunning and teamwork, Whilheim and Xanthar are able to knock down one of the scaled assailants and force it back into its humanoid form. Eventually we are able to restrain two of these gnashing bags of teeth and scale.
Believing in mercy (and reward) we lead these miserable cretins back to Haven to face the guard’s justice.
We loaded up my wagon and took turns pulling it and our prisoners to the Anti-magic cave.
Here’s where things start to ‘Come a gutser’. Deadset we hear the voice of the Elk that night. Booming through our minds like a bad hangover.
He’s having a go at us for bringing these Werecrocs too close to his fine patch. Meanwhile turns out there’s a ripper big Snake Lord in the swamp who isn’t too happy we knicked off with two of his.
The Elk takes one look at me and knows I’m unworthy to pass, you all know me and I’m a bit ‘Iffy’ this Elk… mate… he could look right through a man, you know what I mean?
She’ll be right, No worries though because with this team we’ve got worthiness to spare and I convince old mate Elk to keep the snake off our tails.
As the Elk and the Snake start to fight, the pious and calm Burlo knows we’re going to ‘cark it’ if we stay put so off we run through the night leaving our new friends behind.
We run on through the night and By the time we stop to catch our breath or bearing we’re breathing in large lungfuls of sleeping pollen and everyone but Xanthar are struggling to keep their eyes open.
Eventually, Xanthar, Whilheim and Burlo grit their teeth and fight off the sleep to get Charlotte and Me to the safety of Haven.
So all in all, a pretty good weekend.
Now who wants to buy their good mate Rin a drink?
How Do You Join The West Marches Game?
If you’re struggling to find a Dungeons and Dragons game in your area consider going to /r/West_Marches and signing up. It’s fun to play with new people each session with all kinds of strange party combinations.
I’ll be continuing running my D&D games and posting any Dungeon Master tips that I can come up with. Until then, I hope all your dice rolls are critical hits.